How to Fix the Windows 10 Start Menu if it’s Frozen
When Windows 10 works, it’s a great operating system. When it doesn’t, it causes many inconveniences and lots of frustration. Among Microsoft’s peculiarities is its talent for throwing up brain-scratching bugs. Of course, this tech issue was expected when Microsoft disposed of its Quality Assurance team and relied on user feedback instead. Regardless, one of these bugs is the Start Menu freezing.
The good news is that there are a few solutions to a freezing Start Menu in Windows 10. Some are easy; others are trickier. You can try the top four fixes below, from merely shutting down programs to tinkering with Microsoft’s Windows Media Creation Tool. Here are the details.
Fixing the Frozen Start Menu Problem
Given that many symptoms can cause the locked up/frozen Start Menu in Windows 10, a handful of solutions might get your computer back to a functioning state.
1. Check for Corrupt Files
Many problems with Windows come down to corrupt files, and Start menu issues are no exception. To fix this, launch the Task Manager either by right-clicking on the taskbar and selecting Task Manager or hitting Ctrl + Alt + Delete.
- Type PowerShell into the Cortana/Search bar, single-click on Windows PowerShell from the list if needed, then right-click and choose Run as Administrator or select it in the right pane.
- Type sfc /scannow without quotes and hit Enter. Take note of the space between sfc and /scannow.
- If you see the “Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some (or all) of them” error, type DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth. You’ll need to be connected online, as Windows will download clean versions of corrupted files and replace them. If you see “Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them,” you are all set.
If the above solution doesn’t fix your Windows 10 Start menu freeze-up issues, move on to the next option.
2. Kill the Windows Explorer Process
Killing Windows Explorer is a quick-and-easy fix that may come in handy for various situations, such as when you have non-responsive windows or sporadic issues on the Windows desktop. The process is not guaranteed to work but has saved many Windows users from reinstalling their operating system. Here’s how to kill the Windows Explorer process.
- Right-click the Start Menu icon and select Task Manager from the menu or hold down Ctrl + Shift + Escape.
- Now, scroll through the Processes tab to find Windows Explorer. If Windows Explorer is already open, you’ll see another entry with a dropdown option, as shown below. Ignore that entry and choose the one without a dropdown.
- Next, right-click on the Windows Explorer task specified above and select Restart from the menu.
If restarting Windows Explorer does not solve your freezing Start Menu problem, move on to Solution #3.
3. Rebuild the Index
Indexing is the process of inspecting files, emails, and other types of content within your Windows 10 OS. The method also involves cataloging essential data, such as words, file locations, metadata, etc. If you perform a keyword search in Windows Explorer, you use the indexing process that reviews all stored data to match your search criteria. The index of data helps speed up the search process significantly. Here’s how to rebuild the Windows 10 index.
- Hold down Windows Key + R to open the “Run” window. Alternatively, right-click the Start Menu and select Run.
- Now, type in control /name Microsoft.IndexingOptions without the quotes, and click OK.
- Next, click Modify on the bottom left of the Indexing Options window.
- From here, click the Show all locations button.
- Then, uncheck all the currently ticked locations and select OK.
- Now, click Advanced, then click on Rebuild in the Troubleshooting section. A message pops up stating that this may take some time. Click OK to continue.
- Once the rebuild is complete, hold down Windows Key + R to open the “Run” window again, then type in shutdown /r without quote marks, and click OK to restart your machine.
If rebuilding the Windows 10 index didn’t fix your reluctant Windows 10 Start Menu lockup, it’s time to create some media.
4. Use the Media Creation Tool
There are several fixes to the Windows 10 Start Menu issue, but the “Media Creation Tool” is the only method widely reported to solve the freezing Start Menu problem. So, if you’ve already made the mistake of embarking on some long-winded fix from a random internet forum and it didn’t work, give this process a try.
The good news is that while using the Media Creation Tool is a bit elongated, it’s the most likely method to fix your issue. The tool won’t delete your existing files when used correctly, although it is worth backing up anything important.
The bad news is that this procedure involves downloading the Microsoft Windows Media Creation Tool and creating Windows 10 installation media on a DVD or USB storage device. If anything goes wrong, you’ll have to perform a clean install of Windows 10 and restore your data from the backup.
Note: When you go through the menus for the installation, ensure that you click Keep files and applications. This step guarantees that the installation process updates or replaces the necessary files and preserves your data and applications. However, it generally won’t keep installed programs.
How to Use the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool
- Go to Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool site and download the Media Creation Tool, which appears on the page’s bottom section.
- Create a system installation disk using the Windows Media Creation Tool.
- Double-click on setup.exe from the media you’ve created to launch the installation process.
5. Perform a Fresh Installation
When none of the above procedures stop the Windows 10 Start Menu from freezing or locking up, back up all your data and start a new Windows 10 installation but be sure you have your Windows 10 product key on hand! If you have a fast USB thumb drive or external SSD, installing Windows from there is your best bet—you’ll be done in a half-hour or so.
In closing, a lot can go wrong with an OS, especially one that is as prolific as Windows 10. After all, there are more than 50 million lines of code running behind the scenes of your device. Start with a simple pressing of the Windows key to see if that fixes the issue, and then move on from there.
Windows 10 Start Menu Locked/Frozen FAQs
What causes the Start Menu to freeze?
Many software issues lead to Start Menu problems. First, one common culprit is a new software update. Windows is notorious for leaving users with new glitches and difficulties when a new update has rolled out. If you’ve recently performed an update, try to roll it back or update your machine to a more recent version.
Another cause can be corrupted files. You can perform a scan for corrupted or missing files on your PC using sfc /scannow, but following the steps listed above should fix the issue.
Lastly, malware or a virus can result in problems with your Start Menu. Run a virus scan and clean up your PC to combat any malicious software causing the issue.
How do I access the Settings on my PC without the Start Menu?
Fortunately, Windows gives users plenty of workarounds with keyboard shortcuts. Naturally, when trying to fix errors on your machine, you’ll head to Settings. Simply use the Win + I keyboard shortcut if your Start Menu isn’t working. The Settings menu will appear on the screen, allowing you to check for updates and perform other essential tasks.